Alsace is well known for its urban architecture, most notably the charming half-timbered houses – the highlight of many cities and villages. But the towns of Alsace also surprise visitors with their creativity, authenticity, history, and diversity. On a nice day, Alsace’s cities are ideal for a good stroll or a ride aboard a tourist train to marvel at the houses and monuments. When it’s raining, there are plenty of ways to dive into Alsace’s captivating history, including taking the time to explore the exceptional museums.
Festive, floral, cultural, and gourmet: the three major cities of Alsace are all nearby and accessible by train. (And their names are easy to pronounce, too!)
Strasbourg is Alsace’s largest city, and of course the not-to-be-missed capital of Europe. Two of its districts (Grande Île and Neustadt) are UNESCO World Heritage sites. A city break in Strasbourg promises stunning architectural discoveries. Strasbourg is also worth a visit for its vibrant cultural life, museums, live shows, and European institutions open to visitors all year round.
Are you looking to include a surprising stop for something a bit different than the traditional half-timbered houses of Alsace? The city of Mulhouse, known as “the UFO of the Alsatian landscape” and “the city of a hundred chimneys” amazes visitors in every way! Nearby Switzerland influenced the rise of tall painted houses, and the town’s powerful industrial heritage inspires wholehearted artistic creations, making Mulhouse a creative and innovative city of street art. Renowned industrial museums include the National Automobile Museum, the Cité du Train, and the Museum of Printed Fabrics. Each site takes visitors on a journey to an era when Mulhouse emerged as a great industrial city.
Colmar is a charming town, with the Little Venice district and its rows of colourful little houses. A delight for the eyes but also for the taste buds, as Colmar is Alsace’s epicurean city par excellence. Despite its small size, Colmar boasts three Michelin-starred restaurants. And because a lovely meal is always paired with a good wine, Colmar is also the capital of the Alsace Wine Route. A stop in Colmar is a great base for organising day trips on the legendary wine route just a few kilometres away.
Street art blooms all over the towns! With painted walls, frescoes, graffiti, and hijacked traffic signs, Mulhouse is a playground for street artists who give it their all. The MAUSA, in Neuf-Brisach, is an entire museum dedicated to street art within the fortifications of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Words can hardly describe the amazing spaces created by world-renowned contemporary street artists on the pink sandstone walls commissioned by Louis XIV himself.
Alsace’s 3 major cities, Strasbourg, Colmar, and Mulhouse, have tourist passes for visiting the attractions. Available from the Tourist Offices, the passes give access to museums, tourist sites, and more at a reduced price.
crédits photos : P. HENRY, B. SALMANSKI, P. PRIM, 31 PHOTOGRAPHY, L. MORENO, G. VILLENA, BEST JOBERS